CROSS-DISCIPLINARY TIMELINEThis is a work-in-progress and represents a
selective, combined, timeline from geology, history,
alternative theory, legend, myth, the sciences -- all the
disciplines with which The SPHINX Group deals.
My assumptions about the past are different from many so I will state those up front such that readers will know my biases.
ONE. CYCLICAL VIEW OF HISTORY. Most, in academia and the sciences, believe in a progressive view of history -- that the world has progressed steadily onward and upward from a primeval, primordial soup until today. More traditional cultures believe in a cyclical view of history. Some, like the Hopi and East Indian believe we are in the "fourth world" -- that this is the fourth time human beings (or some advanced life-form) have reached an "advanced" state of culture. The dinosaur (could dragons be a racial memory of dinosaurs?) extinction is, more and more, thought to have been caused by a huge meteor impact in the Yucatan; which devastation spread into North America within minutes, then globally. How much of any culture, even ours today, would be left if something like Shoemaker-Levy had impacted Earth instead of Jupiter?
FATAL CRACKS IN THE CLOVIS WALL THEORY. One of academic archaeology's pet theories is that there was no human civilization in the Americas before the last ice age; about 12,000 years ago (the "Clovis Wall" theory). The Clovis wall developed its first serious crack in 1997, when University of Kentucky anthropologist Thomas Dillehay established that there were indisputable signs of human settlement in Monte Verde, Chile -- 8000 miles from the presumed point of entry in Alaska -- at least 12,400 years ago. Since then, archaeologists have documented a 16,000-year-old human encampment along the Notoway River in Sussex County, VA. And in Pennsylvania, a shallow cave, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, has yielded artifacts that appear to be as much as 14,000 years old. Some of the latest cracks comes from some crude stone tools and other artifacts newly unearthed along the banks of the Savannah River -- buried so deeply that archaeologists say they must be 12-20,000 years old. And another: at about 13,000 years old, the bones of the so-called Arlington Springs woman found on California's Channel Islands may be among the oldest human remains found so far in North America, and could support theories that the first Americans came by sea rather than over a land bridge.
TWO. INTER-RELATEDNESS OF EARTHQUAKES, WEATHER, AND VOLCANOES. Might not global warming lead to greater ocean weight, leading to increased pressure on fault lines, leading to earthquakes, leading to volcanoes?
FACT ONE. Sea-level changes caused by global warming could trigger the eruption of hundreds of new or dormant volcanos, turning the 21st century into the fieriest on record. The rise in volcanic activity would have catastrophic effects on the earth's climate, damage many cities, and affect air quality so badly that millions could die from respiatory ailments. The reasearchers discovered the volcanic implications of rising sea level after being funded by the European Commission to find ways of predicting eruptions around the Meditteranean. They decided the best way to predict the future behavior of volcanoes was to study their distant past. They found that rises in sea level caused by periods of global warming have almost always been followed by a surge in volcanic activity. (Sunday Times of London)
FACT TWO. Scientists have long known that the gases blasted into the air by volcanoes cool the climate. A study of volcanoes in eastern California indicates that, over thousands of years, eruptions occurred in between cycles of colder climate, prompting researchers to speculate that glacial conditions may suppress volcanoes. Similar patterns have been reported by other researchers. Volcanic suppression could have occurred in several ways, including changes in the stress on the earth's crust caused by the weight of ice or lake water, and changes in the amount and location of water underground in the area where magma is building volcanoes. Also, glacial times had a lot more rainfall and snowfall so there might be a cooling of the crust by water flux through it. The team of researchers found peaks of volcanic activity 10 million, 100 million, 185 million, 320 million and 690 million years ago, alternating with periods of glacial climate. (Geophysical Research Letters)
FACT THREE. Scientists have long wondered what caused the massive swarms of icebergs that peeled off from the Canadian ice sheet and roamed the North Atlantic Ocean six different times during the last ice age. Two scientists from Duke University, geologist Peter Malin and his former graduate student, Allen Hunt, suggest that the growing weight of the ice sheet triggered quakes by causing periodic crustal failure along what is now the eastern Canadian coast. His calculations showed the ice sheet's growing mass could have caused the underlying Canadian crust to fail at approximately the same intervals as the Heinrich event. (Nature)
THREE. GEOLOGY IS BOTH EVOLUTIONARY AND CATASTROPHIC. The breaking apart of continents is both a natural condition of continental drift and of impacts from space. What if Atlantis is a racial memory of Pangaea?
FOUR. FORMER LIFE ON MARS. There are cultures in Africa whose myth-legends tell of their origin on the planet Mars. I believe Mars was early home to some of Earth's cultures who came to Earth in advance of a catastrophic meteor impact. What if a Shoemaker-Levy type event had slammed into the planet that used to occupy what is now the asteroid-belt? Might not the ensuing solar-system-wide catastrophe (a) provided earth with its moon, (b) broken up the asteroid-belt-planet into asteroids, and (c) sent enough wildly-orbiting asteroids about our solar system to destroy Pangaea and its ancient-advanced culture on Earth, while robbing a formerly garden-like Mars of its atmosphere?
FACT ONE. On July 28, 1997, as a result of computer simulations performed at Colorado's CO's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, scientists now suspect that a wandering planet sideswiped Earth 4.5 billion years ago, destroying itself, and blasting enough matter into space to form our moon. An "oblique impact" between Earth and the rogue planet vaporized the newly-formed upper portions of the Earth's crust and mantle, spraying material into orbit to form a gaseous disk which condensed into small, hot moonlets which in turn coalesced into a single large moon. The protoplanet was on an orbital path around the sun between Earth and Mars when the collision took place. The new model matches the energy with the right amount of mass needed to form Earth's unusually large moon BUT it also results in an Earth that is spinning too quickly. An earlier model produced the right amount of spin for the Earth but not enough material to have formed the moon. There is growing awareness in the astronomical community that the shape and composition of many planets have been guided by a series of "big slams" as well as smaller collisions over the past 4 billion years or so. Geochemically, the moon's composition is depleted in volatiles in comparison to the earth's or meteorites. Other than volatiles, its overall geochemistry is very similar to earth's. Dynamically, a body as large as the moon could not have been captured at its current distance. Capturing it close enough would have resulted in a decaying orbit; i.e., the moon would have collided with the earth some time ago. All other models put forth have been discounted due to unavoidable contradictions. For more details, do a literature search on Hartmann & Davis or Cameron & Benz (Icarus, June 1997).
FACT TWO. The moon may be older than previously believed, and may briefly have been accompanied by one or more additional moons in the boiling red sky of the infant Earth, a top lunar researcher now believes. In 1986, A.G.W. Cameron of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics stirred up a worldwide astronomical controversy with computer models suggesting that Earth's moon likely arose from a massive collision between what was then a much smaller Earth and a wandering Mars-sized planet. At the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Cameron announced several important new revisions to the big crash theory. After completing complex computer modeling using far more sophisticated software and hardware than was available in 1986, Cameron and his colleagues now calculate that the moon-making collision occurred very early in the history of the solar system, at a time when Earth had accumulated only 65 percent of its present mass. The smaller planet that struck the Earth would have been completely demolished in the collision. After slurping past the Earth and then falling back into it on the other side, it would have poured its heavier iron core into the iron core of the disrupted Earth. If so, 500 to 700 chunks of the aggressor's largely silicon outer surface would have spread out in Earth's orbit. When the smoke cleared a few days or weeks later, there's a chance that the silicon chunks had globbed into two or more moons. Based on his computer models, Cameron said there is a 33 percent chance that more than a single moon arose from the collision. But was it one extra moon? Or two or more extra moons? Whatever the answer, the evidence didn't hang around for long. Any additional moons were destroyed in days. The outer, slightly larger chunk of blasted moon would have been drawn inward by Earth's gravity, sending the inner moon (or moons) crashing into Earth. All of this would have happened within a thousand orbits -- or about 80 days -- leaving behind a single big moon -- the same one revolving around Earth today. (Discovery Communications)
FIVE. BLACK HOLES ARE CYCLIC, like most everything else, and can "collapse" only so far before the collapsing stops. After that, increasing pressure accumulates until the black hole explodes into a big bang.
23,000 A.D. -- Return of Marduk, the 12th planet, whose passing causes earth changes, floods (Sitchen);
4772 A.D. -- Anniversary of the Mayan Creation Date (18.104.22.168.0.0 in the Long Count);
2012 A.D. -- On December 21, several Mayan calendrical cycles end (22.214.171.124.0 4 Ahau 8);
2000 A.D. -- On May 5, a Grand Conjunction of Planets; references in "The Bible Code" to atomic war and Holocaust for years 2000 and 2006;
1999 A.D. --Massive earth changes begin (Cayce);
1995 A.D. -- Year Mabus becomes active;
1962 A.D. -- Birth of antichrist, Mabus (February 4);
1582 A.D. -- Gregorian Calendar revision of Julian Calendar;
1100 A.D. -- Cahokia mounds Mississippian culture peaks;
830-930 A.D. -- Disappearance of the Mayan civilization (from climate change and deforestation);
525 A.D. -- From St. Mark, Egyptian Christian mystics, and Alexandrine Greeks, the Egyptian Phoenix Cycle is incorporated into the calendar (introduced by Dionysius Exioguus, Roman theologian and mathematician);
250-900 A.D. -- Classic Mayan period;
46 B.C. -- Julian Calendar standardized;
332 B.C. to 375 A.D. -- Greco-Roman Period;
430 B.C. -- Earliest evidence for Mesopotamian Zodiac;
712-332 B.C. -- Late Period in Egypt;
966 B.C. -- Solomon begins to build the Temple in Jerusalem;
1069-712 B.C. -- Third Intermediate Period in Egypt;
1200 B.C. -- Mayan Cities abandoned;
1550-1070 B.C. -- New Kingdom in Egypt;
1640-1550 B.C. -- Second Intermediate Period in Egypt;
1953 B.C. -- March 5, beginning of the Chinese calendar (date when the sun, moon, and five planets all lined up in the sky at dawn, JPL);
2040-1640 B.C. -- Middle Kingdom of Egypt;
2150-2040 B.C. -- First Intermediate Period in Egypt;
2200-1900 B.C. -- Old Kingdom of Egypt ends; drought in northern India;
On the basis of explorations carried out in Northern Mesopotamia, a joint French-American team led by H. Weiss of Yale University has determined that most old world civilizations were severely affected by a prolonged drought, triggered by massive volcanic eruptions, that began about 2200-1900 B.C. The collapse of the Akkadian civilization more or less coincided with similar climate change, land degradation, and collapse noted in the Aegean, Palestine, Egypt, and India. (Hindustan Times)
2500 B.C. -- Conventional date for the building of the Great Pyramid;
2630-2150 B.C. -- Old Kingdom of Egypt;
3000 B.C. -- Stonehenge site first used. (archaeological dating);
3114 B.C. -- August 11, zero day for the Mayan calendar (126.96.36.199.0 of the Long Count);
3168-2630 B.C. -- Early Dynastic Period in Egypt;
3800 B.C. -- Sumerian Civilization begins;
4240 B.C. -- Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt;
5600 B.C. -- Noah's flood (?); catastrophic flood of the Black Sea (science);With rising global sea levels, salt water from the Mediterranean and Aegean seas apparently burst into the Black Sea, then a landlocked freshwater lake. The Black Sea rose with terrifying swiftness, inundating more than 60,000 square miles of coastal plains and giving the body of water its current size and configuration. ("Plumbing Black Sea for Proof of the Deluge")
Geological research finds reason to believe there was indeed a vast, sudden, and deadly flood around 5600 B.C., close enough to the possible time of Noah to fascinate biblical literalists and liberals alike. ("Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About the Event That Changed History" by William Ryan and Walter Pitman, adjunct geology professors at Columbia University and senior scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)
7400 B.C. -- Pottery appears;
8000-2200 B.C. -- Vedic Civilization;
Satellite photos show that the Rig Vedic Aryans were the beneficiaries of an age of abundance in north India, brought about by the melting of the ice caps at the end of the last Ice Age which ended about 8000 B.C. For the next several thousand years, many areas that are now arid were fertile and supported agriculture.
10,000 B.C. -- Core samples from Moon show evidence of heating;
10,500 B.C. -- The top and bottom of the Earth warmed sharply, suggesting that some climate-change events once thought to be regional may have, instead, affected the entire planet;
11,500 B.C. -- Oldest skull in the Americas found in Brazil;
The discovery in SE Brazil of the oldest skull in the new world, may help to rewrite the theory of how the Americas were settled because the skull and teeth had characteristics similar to people from the South Pacific. A growing body of evidence supports the idea that migration to the Americas occurred earlier and more often than scientists previously thought. (University of Sao Paulo anthropologist, Walter Neves)
11,560 B.C. -- Atlantis sinks (Plato);
11,630 B.C. -- End of the Pleistocene Period;
12,000 B.C. -- Sudden warming with CO2 Methane "spike" in ice-core;
13,000-9000 B.C. -- Neolithic period begins; rain in Egypt near Sphinx (West); Sumerian Enuna Elish tradition (Sitchin and Biblical deluge); Final sinking of Atlantis (Cayce);
28,000 B.C. -- End of second Atlantian Period (Cayce); anatomically modern man arrives on Iberian peninsula;
Experts examining a 25,000-year-old child's skeleton in Portugal believe it represents compelling evidence that humans as we know them evolved from mating between Neanderthals and anatomically modern man who arrived on the Iberian peninsula between 30,000 and 28,000 years ago. (science)
30,000 B.C. -- Settlement of North America begins;
Genetic reconstructions of evolutionary patterns among Amerind populations, carried out by a research team led by Dr. Antonio Torroni of Emory University, suggest a first settlement date at least 30,000 years ago.
38,000 B.C. -- Harsh climate; Neanderthal man disappears;
48,000 B.C. -- Space boulder smashes into Earth, creating Arizona's Meteor Crater; 50,000-49,000 B.C. -- Reign of Noah (Sitchin); End of 1st Atlantian period (Cayce);
75,000-13,000 B.C. -- GLACIAL PERIOD followed by genetic divergence;
A horrific "volcanic winter" 71,000 years ago (caused by the super-eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra) followed by the coldest 1000 years of the last Ice Age, brought widespread famine and death to modern human populations around the world. The relentless volcanic winter led to substantial lowering of global temperatures, drought and famine, and to a global human population crash during which, if geneticists are correct, no more than 15,000 to 40,000 people survived. The abrupt decrease, in population brought about the rapid genetic divergence of the surviving populations. (Stanley Ambrose, University of Illinois, in the June issue of the Journal of Human Evolution; linking geneticists' research to that of volcanologists)
Changes in the earth's orbit affect the amount of sun that falls on the earth which in turn can affect the long-term climate. In a SCIENCE article, researchers report that as the Earth moves up and down in the plane of the solar system, differing quantities of extraterrestrial debris, dust, and meteoroids come into the Earth's atmosphere which, in turn, results in cyclical variations in our climate. There have been ten periods of glaciation in the past million years. A NATURE article reports that the earth's orbit can itself be influenced by the way geophysical processes deep within its crust interact with the solar system's movement. Features of the earth's orbit, such as the rotation of the poles and changes in the tilt of its axis, may be influenced by factors such as the way the earth's crust is affected by the melting of continental ice sheets. Also in NATURE, ocean currents and differences in water pressure are what makes the Earth wobble a few yards as it spins on its axis. The evidence emerged from a computer simulation of the oceans.
100,000 B.C. -- Mitochondrial Eve in Africa, Java (paleontologists);
125,000 B.C. -- Change in sphenoid bone in skull results in a change in the shape and dimensions to the modern human skull;
Anthropologist, Daniel Liberman, of Rutgers University reports in "Nature" that the shape and dimensions of the modern human head are due to a change in the sphenoid, a small bone at the base of the skull, that occurred 125,000 years ago. No other mammal, including the Neanderthal or Homo erectus, has a face that lies entirely beneath the brain case. It may also be an adaptation for speech because the modern skull shape improves the ability to produce acoustically distinct speech sounds. Liberman's research offers more evidence supporting the so-called "Out of Africa" hypothesis about the geographic origin of modern humans.
200,000-100,000 B.C. -- GLACIAL PERIOD;
300,000 B.C. -- Man appears (Sitchin); Neanderthals appear (science);
The nerve tunnel, called the hypoglossal canal, that allows the tongue to make the sounds of speech developed in primitive, human-like species (including Neanderthals) some 300,000 years ago. (from researchers at Duke University in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences")
432,000 B.C. -- Nefilim arrive on Earth (Sitchin);
480,000-430,000 B.C. -- GLACIAL PERIOD;
584,285 B.C. -- Start date of the current epoch of the Mayan calendar;
780,000 B.C. -- New Human Species appears;
A group of paleoanthropologists in Spain discovered a new human species in the fossilized remains of a boy displaying a unique combination of features -- a face like the modern homo sapiens species, and a jaw and brow similar to the extinct neanderthals.
900,000-800,000 B.C. -- Homo erectus reaches the island of Flores;
By crossing at least 12 miles of water, probably on bamboo rafts, the evidence suggests that Homo erectus had better mental, technological, and linguistic abilities than previously realized.
1,000,000 B.C. -- Danakil skull with features of Homo sapiens;
In the Northern Danakil Depression in Eritrea, the discovery of a human skull, with features characteristics of Homo sapiens and estimated to be one million years old, could provide new clues about how and when modern man evolved. The skull proves that traits of modern man began to differentiate in Africa about one million years ago, 300,000 years earlier than previous estimates. The skull supports the theory that modern humans evolved in Africa and spread across the world about 100,000 years ago. (from a June 3, 1998, Reuters article)
2,500,000 B.C. -- Current glacial-interglacial cycle set in motion; rise of Himalayas; closing of Isthmus of Panama;
The current glacial-interglacial cycle is set in motion more than 2.5 million years ago by gradual closing of isthmus of Panama, which re-routed oceanic currents that carry water and heat around the globe. Others say the cause was the rise of the Himalayas, resulting in a realignment of atmospheric circulation.
3,300,000 B.C. -- Cometary or asteroid impact in Argentina; air and ocean temperatures cooled quickly, and 36 extinctions (geology);
An 18-mile-long layer of greenish glass in a seaside cliff between Mar del Plata and Miramar on the central Atlantic coast of Argentina, may have been deposited by the fiery impact of a comet or asteroid hitting the Earth 3.3 million years ago, according to researchers. 36 different types of animals became extinct around the time of the impact. (Science article be Peter H. Schultz of Brown University)
3,500,000 B.C. -- Date for oldest human ancestor found in S. Africa;
A complete fossil skeleton more than 3.5 million years old was found in South Africa. It predates any remains found anywhere south of Tanzania by half a million years but scientists will want to examine the skeleton closely to establish whether its upper jaw has the tell-tale, ape-like "arrow-head" formation or whether it more closely resembles modern humans. A complete skeleton will provide details about how upright these species stood, what kind of gait he had, and how well developed his hands were for making and using tools. (University of the Witwatersrand)
4,000,000 B.C. -- Emergence of bipedalism;
Tests on volcanic material confirm that fossils discovered in Kenya in 1995 are from the earliest known ancestor of man to walk erect, more than four million years ago, pushing the emergence of walking on two legs back more than 500,000 years. The origins of bipedalism go back well over 4 million years. (Craig Feibel, Rutgers University geologist, "Nature")
10,000,000 B.C. -- Peak of volcanic activity in eastern California;
25,000,000 B.C. -- Huge volcanic eruptions (Antarctica);
Scientists drilling into the the floor of the Ross Sea near Antarctica found layers of pumice and other volcanic debris up to four-feet-thick -- evidence of huge volcanic eruptions; suggesting a past so fiery as to alter the global environment of the time.
28,000,000 B.C. -- 98% pure silica-glass formation in Western Sahara (near Libyan border) formed, from which a scarab was made for Tutankhamen;
35,500,000 B.C. -- Shower of comets hit Earth; EXTINCTION;
The 53-mile-wide crater near Virginia and the 60-mile-wide Popigai crater in Siberia created (based on analysis of rocks melted by the impacts) long-lasting changes in the global environment and caused the mass extinction that happened about the same time. ("Nature") Geochemical evidence collected from a rock quarry in northern Italy indicates that a shower of comets hit Earth and account for the huge craters at Popagai in Siberia and at Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. A large comet cloud outside the orbit of Pluto was knocked askew by a gravitational disturbance that forced a wave of comets into the center of the solar system late in the Eocene period. ("Science")
40,000,000 B.C. -- Glaciers began to close over Antarctica, once a mild, forested landscape;
55-35,000,000 B.C. -- Massive mountain range forms;
The Himalayas, the European Alps, and the Caucasus may be the remnants of a massive mountain range -- formed around 55 million years ago when two supercontinents collided -- that may once have spanned much of the globe from Spain to New Zealand. (Geologists at the Australian Crustal Research Center at Monash)
65-63,000,000 B.C. -- Dinosaur extinction; 6-mile-wide cometary impact in Chixilub, Yucatan; massive period of volcanism in India (Geophysical Research Letters)
More clues point to impact as dinosaur killer. Two new impact crater sites in Belize and Mexico add further evidence to the hypothesis that an asteroid or comet collided with Earth about 65 million years ago, subsequently killing off the dinosaurs and many other species on the planet. Researchers Adriana Ocampo of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Kevin Pope of Geo Eco Arc Research, La Canada-Flintridge, CA, led an international team that discovered the two new sites during a recent expedition sponsored by NASA's Exobiology Program and The Planetary Society, Pasadena, CA.
92-86,000,000 B.C. -- Arctic as warm as present-day Florida;
Immediately after volcanoes around the world spewed carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about 90 million years ago, the Arctic was as warm as present-day Florida, according to fossil evidence discovered by a University of Rochester team in the high Canadian Arctic. The find of bones from several crocodile-like beasts known as champsosaurs, along with turtles and fish -- champsosaurs' favorite foods -- is detailed in a "Science" article. Based on the numbers and sizes of the animals found, the team estimates that the annual mean temperature in the Arctic during the late Cretaceous period, from about 92 million to 86 million years ago, was about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it was rarely if ever freezing during the winter, and summer temperatures consistently reached into the 80s and 90s.
100-70,000,000 B.C. -- Mammals were alive during the Cretaceous period;
Mammals definitely were living on Earth during the Cretaceous period from 70 to 100 million years ago, before the extinction of the dinosaurs. A massive gene study suggests that modern orders of mammals first evolved when the continents were separating during the Cretaceous era about 100 million years ago. The scientists sifted through many thousands of vertebrate gene sequences from hundreds of species to find those that develop mutations at a constant rate over time. (Penn State biology researchers Sudhir Kumar and S. Blair Hedges in "Nature")
100,000,000 B.C. -- Peak of volcanic activity in eastern California;
120-115,000,000 B.C. -- Cretaceous period; dinosaurs dominated;
150-100,000,000 B.C. -- Breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea in the early Cretaceous period; crater Mjoelnir formed north of Norway;
Dubbed Mjoelnir after the mythical hammer wielded by Thor, a 25-mile-wide, undersea meteor crater in the Arctic was the result of a stunning collision 150 million years ago. It is estimated that the roughly 1.25-mile-wide meteor was traveling about 18,600 mph when it slammed into the Earth 125 miles north of Norway. The impact caused a tidal wave that stretched from Canada to Russia and sent a plume of hot debris into the atmosphere that darkened much of the planet. (from "Gemini," a publication of the SINTEF Research Institute in Norway)
185,000,000 B.C. -- Peak of volcanic activity in eastern California;
212,000,000 B.C. -- Late Triassic Extinction;
Series of comets slams into North America and Europe. The earliest dinosaurs may have looked up from their evening meals to witness a mountain hurtling through the sky. Blazing white-hot and moving at 61,000 kilometers per hour, the giant comet or asteroid screamed through Earth's atmosphere, close enough to snap the tops off any high peaks in its path. Then the object disappeared back into space, missing the planet by the thinnest of margins. The sky streaker would return shortly -- this time, in force. The extraterrestrial menace split into a series of large chunks that slammed sequentially into Earth, like bullets from a machine gun. This scenario is emerging from scientific studies of five ancient craters (the Rochechouart impact structure in France, the Manicouagan impact structure in Canada, the Saint Martin impact structure also in Canada, and two craters in the Ukraine and North Dakota. When located on a map of the world 214 million years ago, the first three fall almost perfectly in a line). All five are believed to have formed within a few hours of each other 214 million years ago, with planet-wrenching consequences. The late-Triassic crisis is notorious as one of the five biggest extinction events in the fossil record, wiping out the dominant reptiles of the time and spurring the rise of a hitherto minor group called dinosaurs, which went on to dominate Earth for 150 million years.
250-240,000,000 B.C. -- Permian extinction; massive period of volcanism in Siberia (Geophysical Research Letters);
A drying trend of Pangaea that cut off the flow of nutrients to the oceans some 240 million years ago may be to blame for the greatest mass extinction the world has ever known. Massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia or a huge belch of harsh chemicals from the ocean floor could have caused the event during the last 2 million years of the Permian Period, when nearly nine-out-of-10 species vanished. Fossil marine deposits show that land sediments stopped reaching the ocean as the Permian ended. (Pennsylvania State University team at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union)
310,000,000 B.C. -- Divergence of birds and mammals;
320,000,000 B.C. -- Peak of volcanic activity in eastern California;
370,000,000 to 367,000,000 B.C. -- Devonian extinction;
A comet slamming into Nevada generates 1000-foot-high waves in what was then an ocean and was likely the first in a series of comet strikes that brought about the Devonian extinction, one of five greatest extinctions of life in Earth's history. Most organisms lived in the ocean. By itself, the impact couldn't have caused a mass extinction three-million years later but craters and similar breccia rocks in other countries suggest the Devonian mass extinction was caused by numerous comet strikes within a few million years.
530,000,000-500,000,000 B.C. -- Collision in outer space;
Meteorite fossils discovered in Sweden add to the evidence of a collision in outer space; part of a shower of meteorites hitting the earth after an asteroid collision, resulting in an evolutionary explosion; sudden appearance of a multitude of new life forms around the world as well as Earth's supercontinents taking a 90-degree turn, shifting the polar masses to the equator and putting equatorial points at the poles.
540,000,000 B.C. -- Three-limbed tree of life diverges from a common ancestor;
Discovery of a common genetic theme that places nearly all animals -- from mollusks to humans -- on a three-limbed tree of life that first diverged from a common ancestor at least 540 million years ago. (Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Paris, Cambridge University and St. Petersburg University in Russia reporting in the journal "Nature")
690,000,000 B.C. -- Peak of volcanic activity in eastern California;
700,000,000-600,000,000 B.C. -- Earth axis tilted as much as 50 degrees resulting in glacial equator;
The earth's equator was once a glacial winter wonderland 600-700 million years ago, possibly due to a significant increase in the earth's tilt, at the time, by as much as 50 degrees relative to its spin axis (current tilt is 23.5 degrees). The poles, under such conditions, would have received more sunlight, and remained ice-free, while the equatorial region received little sun and was iced over. The earth's climate also may have affected its tilt as the glaciers forming and melting there enhanced the earth's equatorial bulge which, in turn, changed the tilt. (James F. Kasting, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University in the science journal, Nature)
750,000,000-570,000,000 B.C. -- Precambrian Ice Ages (Earth went through at least four deep ice ages, each lasting millions of years);
850,000,000-800,000,000 B.C. -- Evolutionary explosion among complex eukaryotes;
On Canada's Victoria Island, scientists unearth a mother lode of microscopic fossils, chronicling an evolutionary explosion among complex cells more than 800 million years ago. There's a huge amount of diversity in the environment at this time, suggesting that eukaryotes were rapidly evolving in the face of some new ecological pressure, and one candidate is the appearance of the earliest animals.
2,000,000,000 B.C. -- Martian atmosphere goes from wet to dry (SCIENCE);
2,150,000,000 B.C. -- The asteroid Eltanin blasted into the Bellingshausen Sea off Antarctica;
Eltanin triggered waves 65-130 feet high; causing devastating mega-tsunamis that swamped the coasts of South America and Antarctica in the late Pliocene period. Sediment spread up to 2500 miles away and dust, vapor, and salts wafted around the world. The dust and vapor probably caused a major change in climate but whether that persisted or was for just a few years is unknown. There is no evidence that the climatic change caused the extinction of any species but the fallout from the blast may explain the Sirius enigma -- the puzzle of why marine fossils are found high above sea level in the Transantarctic Mountains. (British science journal NATURE)
2,500,000,000-2,000,000,000 B.C. -- Geomagnetic field exists (from magnetic imprints in ancient rock) which also indicates the presence of an inner core;
2,700,000,000 B.C. -- Molecular-fossil evidence that life existed in the Archean era (a billion years earlier than previously thought, journal "Science") found in Australia; 3,200,000,000 B.C. -- Moon assumes present shape (science);
4,000,000,000 B.C. -- Marduk fights Tiamet and creates Earth (legendary); Mars loses its atmosphere (science);The discovery of magnetized bands in the oldest Martian crust shows that the planet in an early epoch churned with internal heat and was remarkably like the geology of Earth today. Mars was a more active world in its early history, a warmer place with liquid water on the surface and perhaps even the beginnings of simple life. Plate tectonics there ceased to be an important factor 4 billion years ago. ("Science")
4,500,000,000 B.C. -- Wandering planet sideswipes Earth, destroying itself, and blasting enough matter into space to form the moon. The heat would have vaporized much of the Earth's crust, then just forming. (astronomers); Earth reaches its full size; water on Mars;
NASA's Pathfinder has detected that the Martian surface teemed with fast-flowing water some 3-4.5 billion years ago. The water is thought to have deposited some of the boulders seen by Pathfinder's cameras. The so-called Twin Peaks that dominate the hills on the landing site horizon appear to be islands shaped by water. And Pathfinder found rock conglomerations and pebbles that suggested water in the past. However, Mars has been dry and static for the last 2 billion years with only erosion from the wind changing the scene.
10,000,000,000 B.C. -- Milky Way galaxy forms;
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